A federal judge ruled on Sunday that Ken Cuccinelli was unlawfully installed as the acting director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
President Donald Trump’s appointment of Cuccinelli, who also serves as the acting deputy secretary of the Homeland Security Department, violated the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998, U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss declared in his 55-page decision.
Only an official designated as “first assistant,” as defined by the FVRA, can assume the role of acting USCIS director when the vacancy arises, according to the ruling. Cuccinelli initially was appointed to the new position of principal deputy director. At the same time, the USCIS order of succession was revised to include the principal deputy director as a first assistant. Both of these changes occurred after the vacancy had arisen.
Policies put in place under Cuccinelli, including reducing the time granted for asylum seekers to schedule “credible fear” interviews during expedited deportation proceedings, are now void, Moss ruled.
Trump appointed Cuccinelli, a supporter of the president’s hard-line immigration agenda, as head of USCIS in June of last year.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
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